Helping Caregivers to Cope With Caring
Companies Work to Lighten the Burden on Employees Who Look After Elderly or Infirm Relatives.
The demographics are stark. The average life expectancy in Europe is currently 75 and set to rise to 82 by 2050, and over-85s now constitute the region's fastest-growing age group. More than 6% of European employees are informal caregivers, according to a European Union policy paper by Wolfgang Keck of the Social Science Research Centre Berlin. In the U.K., the figure is one in eight adults, or six million people—a figure that is expected to rise to around nine million in the next 30 years, according to Mandy Rutter, a senior clinical business manager at Validium, a U.K.-based firm that provides employee-assistance programs for companies.
Informal carers are more likely to suffer from exhaustion and twice as likely to be sick and permanently disabled as the rest of the population, Ms. Rutter says.
Isolation and perceived stigma is another challenge for carers, says Ms. Rutter of Validium: "Caring for elderly relatives is not a sexy job. It's not necessarily something you want to come in and talk with colleagues about. You might have pictures of children on your desk but when it's elderly people with dementia or incontinence, it's not something you want to share."
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